News & Politics

Is DC a “Real” Baseball Town? We Made a Breakdown to Help You Decide

Currently the fanbase is far too literate, but the pettiness over Harper might make up for that.

Washington Nationals fans celebrate after Game 4 of the baseball National League Championship Series. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Baseball fans nationwide have split themselves into two categories on Twitter since the Nationals won the pennant: those who insist DC is as credible a baseball town as New York or Boston, and those who insist that Nats fans should shut up. But baseball towns have key characteristics. It’s easy enough to determine how Washington stacks up. Each category is worth five points.  

IN A BASEBALL TOWN: The fans defend the home team even when they’re a radioactive garbage pile

Any worthwhile fanbase has a total disassociation from facts. It’s easy to be a diehard fan when your team is winning. It’s a little harder to justify your giant curly “W” neck tattoo when the team runs on the field wearing jerseys reading “Natinals” to garner the worst record in the MLB for the second year in a row. While I’m sure there are some diehard Nats fans out there willing to throw punches over imagined slights, the majority of Nats supporters still have a firm grip on reality. So much so that they’ve, at times, been outnumbered by *shudders* Phillies fans at home games. 

Score: 2/5

IN A BASEBALL TOWN: Home games include an iconic song

The Yankees have “New York, New York,” the Cubs have “Go Cubs Go,” and Red Sox fans compulsively scream the horn response in “Sweet Caroline.” The Nats have…“Baby Shark.” I hate everything about this phenomenon, but the song has managed to get roughly 40,000 adults who presumably have jobs and families to smack their hands in a chomping motion and unironically sing “doo doo doo doo,” so respect. The Nats lose legacy points, though, because the song will likely become a thing of the past when Gerardo Parra leaves.

Score: 3/5

IN A BASEBALL TOWN: There are great celebrity fans

The Cubs have Bill Murray and Vince Vaughan. The Red Sox have John Krasinski and Matt Damon. The Yankees have every famous New Yorker who doesn’t root for the Mets. The Nats have…Wolf Blitzer, Brett Kavanaugh, and Maury Povitch. Sigh.

Score: 1/5

IN A BASEBALL TOWN: Your fanbase is at least 20 percent idiot

This doesn’t necessarily mean your fanbase is aggressive; Cardinals fans are actually known for their politeness. Rather, it’s about a number of your fellow fans having qualities that you’d hope would stop them from procreating, but you know won’t stop them from trying. Perhaps it’s jumping off a light pole to celebrate a win. Maybe it’s streaking on the field only to be clotheslined by a security guard. Hell, it could even be screaming “I own property on 69th Street” in an attempt to heckle an ump. There are a myriad of ways to flex one’s stupid muscle, but Nats fans don’t seem to be interested in exploring them, choosing instead to invest their time in activities like reading newspapers, knitting, and filing their taxes. In a city full of professionals concerned about their reputations, it’s easy to understand why most Nats supporters would shy away from blacking out and spilling beer on children in the stands. For now, DC will have to rely on the unencumbered idiocy of keg-crushing GW frat bros to make up the difference.

Score: 1/5

IN A BASEBALL TOWN: Your team has a championship under their belt

It is not important that your team be consistently good. The Phillies, the worst performing sports franchise in recorded history, have won two championships in their 136 years. In fact, the worse you play in general, the better. Nothing proves franchise loyalty like fans whose only defense for why their team shouldn’t be disbanded and sold for scraps is that “one amazing season” when players were still rolling up in Model T’s. Here’s to hoping for a Nats World Series win so our dumb fan grandchildren can reference the 2019 season “back when America was still a representative democracy.”

Score: 4/5

IN A BASEBALL TOWN: The fans are deeply petty about a crushing loss

Ask any Red Sox fan where they were on October 25, 1986, and they’ll launch into an overcomplicated saga about the horror of the team’s heartbreaking defeat to the Mets, regardless of whether they were actually born at the time. For Nats fans, the pain of their crushing playoff losses in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017 is fresher. That tends to get channeled into rage when they’re reminded of the mere existence of Bryce Harper. I mean, the guy did what any rational human being would do and signed with the team that made the dollar signs that are his eyes grow the largest. But the way Nats fans talk about him, he might as well be clubbing baby seals in the off-season. Guys, you’re performing better without him! The hatred is over-the-top, completely irrational, and I love every bit of it. The Nats get an extra “bitterness” point for this round. Good work.

Score: 6/5

IN A BASEBALL TOWN: You’ve had a decades-long winning drought

You know what feels great? Winning. You know what feels even better? Getting to be self-righteous about how “you knew they could do it all along” when your team wins after being a stain on your city’s reputation for half a century. Technically, DC hasn’t won a World Series in 95 years, putting it on par with the Red Sox’s 86-year embarrassment and just behind Chicago’s 108-year-long travesty. However, DC didn’t even have a team for 33 years. That’s still ghastly enough to get almost full points.

Score: 4/5

IN A BASEBALL TOWN: Your team suffers from a curse

It’s so much easier to rationalize why your team sucks if you can point to a higher power that’s clearly the cause for your team’s misfortunes instead of facing the fact you’ve had years of bloated, crappy management. The more irrational the better. Yeah, the “Curse of the Bambino” is great, but does it really get better than Cubs fans blaming more than a century of ineptitude on some guy who was pissed he couldn’t bring his pet goat into a baseball stadium? I’ve been told there’s an ongoing witch hunt on Capitol Hill which might explain why the Nats are free of any kind of supernatural interference at the moment. I’ll throw in a point, though, for “Baby Shark” being a curse in its own right.

Score: 1/5

Final Score: 22/40 

Congrats, Nats fans! By hitting 55 percent of our highly scientific criteria, you’ve just eked your way into getting to label yourself a baseball town. Don’t get carried away, though, or you might find yourself truly cursed by the end of the Series.

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.